The Saratoga Sun -

It is great to live in America


As the 4th of July rolls by, this is one of my favorite times to be in Wyoming. For that matter, the United States. But honestly, the 4th of July feels special, like it should, celebrating in small town Wyoming.

Does it really get any better than celebrating America’s birthday with neighbors and friends in a state that understands the pioneer spirit and what the United States has accomplished since its independence?

I truly love celebrating America’s birthday in Carbon County more than any place I have ever lived. That includes growing up next to D.C. and going to the fireworks on the Mall. I got to see the Beach Boys and Katrina and the Waves, of “Walking on Sunshine” fame, at one of the celebrations ... and it was great. No doubt the Nation’s capital can throw a good birthday party for our country.

But it is not only in the United States that I have celebrated 4th of July.

China, Taiwan, and Australia are all countries I have observed this country’s birthday. Got to admit, all those commemorations I attended were pretty lame compared to celebrating here in this country, especially Carbon County.

Still, in Asia, the fireworks were pretty amazing.

Makes sense, especially since the Chinese invented fireworks in general, and they really do fireworks displays well.

I have seen fireworks in several large cities overseas that are beyond anything we have in the Untied States.

In Shanghai, at the end of Chinese New Year, the fireworks start at dark—this holiday usually starts in February so it gets dark early— and the fireworks go on until about 2 a.m. So much ash comes down that the city looks to be covered in snow.

Not only does the city put on its show, but on almost every street corner fireworks and rockets are sold. It is fairly insane how people set off fireworks almost anywhere. Major roads, apartment complexes; really everywhere. There is usually some story of a car or motorcycle getting hit by rockets during this time.

When I lived in Suzhou, a city of 8 million that is about 45 minutes by train from Shanghai, the venue I worked in was set on a lake. Beautiful place. You could eat on a second story deck that overlooked the water and fireworks were put on every night by the city during the summer.

I will reiterate, the Chinese know how to put on a great fireworks display.

For all the excellent fireworks displayS I have seen, whether it was 4th of July or just a show, nothing compares to the fireworks display I get to watch at Medicine Bow.

Medicine Bow?


It isn’t because they have the biggest show, although it is good.

It is because 4th of July feels authentic.

This was my third time watching them and the anticipation by all attendees is catching. People talk amongst themselves as they wait for signs that the show will be starting.

I can feel the excitement in a way I just never do in a large city, whether I have been in the United States or overseas.

It is because there is nothing but goodwill at this gathering in Medicine Bow. Even if the fireworks are delayed.

The wind held up the show fifteen minutes or so, but I loved watching the kids run around waiting for the show to start and nobody was griping.

I remember the first time I came. I marveled at the small town goodness all around me. You can really feel it. The Lions Club always supplies food and friendly faces abound as you move throughout the crowd. I am always asked if I want something to eat.

I am not a resident, but because of the Sun’s coverage, I have met quite a few Medicine Bow townsfolk that stop, talk to me and ask how I am doing.

This year, while waiting for the display to start, I had the pleasure of talking to one of Carbon County’s legends (although he will dispute this title with true humility) and got to hear what it was like to be serving on an aircraft carrier when I was probably in diapers.

This person still teaches physical education to youngsters and coaches a basketball team. He is in his 80s and quite inspirational. I felt warm as he told me about the America he witnessed over the years—and I don’t mean warm temperature-wise.

As people said “hello” and asked how my holiday was going, I realized this is what living in America is all about, at least for me.

There is nothing impersonal about small town living. People actually care how your life is going and this feels especially strong on the 4th of July.

If I could bottle up this goodwill the town of Medicine Bow shows me, I would put it aside and take sips when days aren’t going so well.

I can honestly say, I feel like an adopted Med Bow resident.

As I wandered around before the fireworks show started, people came up to me and asked how my day was going.

As I answered all was going fine to all that asked, I found myself recalling my 4th of July celebrations over the years, and although there a few that are worth remembering, I can’t say any come close to capturing the spirit of this American holiday the way I feel at Medicine Bow.

I am pretty sure it is because I am in a small town in Wyoming.

To be sure, even I marvel at some of the things I have seen on 4th of July in other countries. The fireworks might have more bang, but the charm of how this small town puts on a display that makes one feel patriotic cannot be undersold.

I truly love the spirit I feel at being an American in small town Wyoming.

I have to acknowledge, I never really got this feeling until I moved to Wyoming.

I don’t doubt that the fireworks in Encampment and Saratoga generate similar feelings, because they are small town, too, but if I may be so bold, Medicine Bow puts on a hell of a display for such a small municipality.

Walking away after it is all said and done, a person like me can’t help but be happy to be a United States citizen during this truly exclusive American celebration.

So, as this 4th of July fades away, I want to say “thank you” to Medicine Bow and the other Carbon County small towns for having the celebrations you do on America’s birthday. I also want to say thanks to all involved; which includes the firefighters, the organizers and the people who launch the fireworks.

You have impacted at least one jaded individual on your fireworks displays and maybe even this holiday itself—American Chamber of Commerces in other countries try hard to get expats in the spirit, but it really didn’t work for me—and I can’t be grateful enough.

Happy Birthday, America, from a guy who lives in Carbon County and could not be happier.

When winter comes, I admit, there is a chance I will be singing a different tune.

Until that inevitable time of year arrives, enjoy the summer and all the beauty living in Carbon County has to offer.

I know I will.


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